Hezbollah Believes Obama Administration ‘Better’ for Them

By: Dr. Walid Phares


November 3, 2008


While the debate in the United States rages over future counterterrorism policies of the two Presidential candidates, Hezbollah's partisans in Lebanon are very open about their support to Senator Barack Obama. Rightly so or not, their perception is telling as to the general attitude of Jihadist forces in the region regarding the future of U.S. foreign policy.


As detailed in an AFP report from Lebanon, the perception by Hezbollah's militants, described as "fans of Ayatollah Khomeini," is clear: An Obama Administration will be "better" for them than a McCain's. If you follow the logic of this perception, it would lead you to the prediction by the region's regimes and militant forces that a radical change in Washington's war on terror, if not its ending, will produce a rehabilitation of the regimes now called rogues such as Iran, Syria and Sudan. Hence, after an al Qaeda military commander wished "humiliation" to the Party of the incumbent President, meaning defeat to McCain, many statements from Tehran, Damascus, Gaza and now this AFP report shows a clear preference by the radical movements to see an Obama Presidency taking the control of US policy in 2009.


These trends, which will become very clear "if" and once the results would give victory to the Senator from Illinois, shed light on an ongoing discussion of preferences within the Jewish and Middle Eastern communities as to who should occupy the Oval Office next January. American Jews traditionally split along Party lines. But in this election digesting an Obama choice for Jewish Democrats and liberals had to be helped by a speech delivered by the young Senator at AIPAC and a visit to Israel, where he committed to "support the Jewish state." Obviously the details were not discussed. But the mood among radical regimes and organizations overwhelmingly in support to Obama seems to question the real future attitudes towards the "real" issues on the ground. For over two weeks I had this discussion on Arab media including on al Hurra TV, al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi TV, the Saudi TV, Nile TV, as well as on LBC and many radio programs. "Is Obama's speech to American Jewish audiences a real commitment or is it a classical American speech delivered to one of the most influential voting blocs in sensitive states?" That question was unanimous but interestingly enough, a rising number of commentators said "in the end, this speech is unavoidable. It is actions regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran and Sudan that counts as a prelude to a change in US behavior regarding Israel."


Interestingly, al Jazeera was broadcasting throughout the week a long documentary titled "the Israel Lobby" which basically concluded that "eventually, this lobby has influence but it can be reversed."


On the other hand, we've noted the electoral split among Arab and Middle Eastern voters in the United States. Among these six million citizens originating from the region, agenda reading was faster. While most of the Arab Muslim organizations critical of US policy mobilized overwhelmingly for Obama, Middle East ethnic groups such as Lebanese, Copts, Assyro-Chaldeans and Sudanese and Darfur-Americans, as well as Arab and Muslim reformers chose McCain by political instincts.


But the matter remains an issue of perception. As described by the AFP report, Hezbollah's supporters, reflecting the hopes of their leaders and of the Iranian regime obviously would prefer a US President who would opt for a "sit down and cut deal" policies over "confrontation and containment." To the opponents of American policy of Democratization, a new direction – in their direction – is the best they can hope for. Are they right in their expectations? First U.S. voters will have to cast their ballots. Then history will take its course.


FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Dr. Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.